A leading Chinese dissident author whose plight was highlighted by Salman Rushdie in a recent attack on the Chinese government has been barred from traveling abroad to an international literary festival for the second time in a month, as China’s security establishment continues to mount a widespread clampdown on dissent.

Liao Yiwu, the outspoken author of The Corpse Walker was told he could not travel to the Sydney Writers’ Festival for “security reasons”, the festival’s organisers said, adding their “deep disappointment” at the decision.

The case of Mr Liao, who was also prevented from attending the PEN World Voices festival in New York last month, was taken up by fellow writer Salman Rushdie in an excoriating article attacking the Chinese government last month.

Mr Rushdie, who reported that Mr Liao had now even been ordered to stop publishing his works abroad, numbered him as one of a brave band of Chinese dissidents who had the courage to “speak the truth against the lies of tyrants”.

The Chinese government has reacted furiously to Mr Rushdie’s insults, accusing him of interfering in China’s sovereign and judicial affairs and angrily rejected any need for “lectures” about human rights.

The news of Mr Liao’s apparent travel ban came as the art world anxiously awaited news of Ai Weiwei – the acclaimed artist whose Sunflower Seeds has been exhibiting at Tate Modern this year – who has now been detained for 37 days with contact with family, colleagues or lawyers.

Under Chinese law, Mr Ai, who is reportedly being investigated for “economic crimes” must be formally arrested or released, however lawyers in China said there were several loopholes that the authorities could use to prolong the interrogation period.

Mr Ai is one of dozens of prominent artists, lawyers, bloggers, Christians and writers who have been detained or harrassed in recent months as China’s authorities try to stamp out any threat of Middle East-style Jasmine revolution being repeated in China.

Mr Liao, who has been barred from travelling abroad 14 times in the past according to rights groups, has also been arrested several times for his criticisms of the Chinese government. His poetry includes the epic “Massacre” written after the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings.

His book, The Corpse Walker, is an oral history of life at the margins of Chinese society that exposes the growing wealth inequalities in China, a highly sensitive subject for ruling Communist Party which is accused of corruption and the enrichment of a privileged few. Mr Liao was not responding to calls to his telephone.

Chip Rolley, the head of the Sydney Writer’s Festival, said festival-goers had been denied the chance to hear Mr Liao’s stories from China.

“Mr Liao’s stories show us the side of China that we don’t normally get to see in the media, ” he said.

“Australians are very tuned into the rise of China and its role in influencing other countries in the region and they will want to know why Mr Liao has been denied the right to leave the country.”

Mr Laio had been due to perform some of his poetry and discuss his book in five appearances at the festival. Mr Rolley said organisers had been told he could not attend just one week before the festival was due to open.

He noted that China was Australia’s biggest trading partner and said the decision to block him from attending the festival would “have implications for the relationship between the two countries.”

The Australian department of foreign affairs and trade had not responded to a request for comment.